Dennis Black avoids jail time after stealing more than $300,00 in state funds
Black received five years probation, community service for two felony charges
Former UB Vice President Dennis Black received five years probation Friday morning after pleading guilty in September to stealing more than $300,000 from university bank accounts and avoiding taxes on the illegal funds, a separate felony charge.
State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski said he believed Black’s criminal acts warranted at least a year in county jail, but because sentencing guidelines would only allow Black to serve a state prison sentence – an option Black’s defense attorney Brian Mahoney argued was unfair considering Black’s full restitution and many years of public service – Michalski sentenced him instead to five years probation, 2,500 hours community service and a $5,000 fine. Michalski mentioned that Black’s community service could not involve handling money or bank accounts.
“You’re not to be trusted in that regard,” Michalski said.
The sentence went against District Attorney John Flynn’s recommendation that Black receive some amount of prison time.
Co-prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Candace Vogel also argued for jail time for Black in her statement.
“This is not a man who made a mistake one day, this is not a freak aberration,” she said. “This was calculated activity. It went on year after year, charge after charge, and trip after trip and all this time he was portraying himself as the great volunteer and philanthropist. The people would request that Mr. Black receive some incarceration.”
Mahoney argued that this same public stage has led Black to suffer greatly already from his actions.
“Mr. Black has paid a real price in the damage done to his reputation and he has suffered public humiliation which is understandable giving his actions,” Mahoney said. “We just ask that this court take that into account.”
Black himself offered a remorseful statement to the court in which he apologized for the “negative consequences” of his actions on the university community, his family and friends.
“I know I’ll never be able to make up to that what I’ve done but I’ll forever keep trying,” Black said.
The university released a statement following Black’s sentencing saying, “Throughout these legal proceedings, we have had confidence in the judicial process. We are pleased that restitution to the university has been made as part of the Mr. Black’s guilty plea.”
Allison Staebell contributed reporting to this story.